Maple Muffins to Go

Now that Mark heads out each morning with his food for the day in tow I’ll be doing a little more baking. In my opinion no packed lunch is complete without a mid-morning snack. I look at the coffee break as a sort of second breakfast so I’ll be keeping the freezer stocked with muffins and other types of baked goodies. I just toss one in his lunch bag straight from the freezer and it defrosts by the time he’s ready to eat it. These maple syrup muffins were one of the first things I baked after moving to California. I didn’t have the maple sugar that the original recipe called for so I used brown. They are not too sweet and are kind of like portable pancakes. They’re good on their own, but with a a little blueberry jam they’re even better.

Solar Baked Maple Muffins
(adapted from “The Ultimate Muffin Book” by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough)


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup maple syrup

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Savory Sun Baked Muffins

These savory muffins are the perfect accompaniment to yesterday’s frittata. They’re also good with soups, salads, or cheese. Use a high quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.

Solar Baked Olive Oil Muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina or white cornmeal

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup milk (whole, 2%,1%, or fat-free)

1/4 cup Marsala wine

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest


Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat. Coat two muffin tins with six indentations each with cooking spray or line with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, semolina or cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk, and Marsala until smooth; whisk in the oil and lemon zest. Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Fill the prepared tins three-quarters full. Bake any leftover batter in a second batch. Use a rack to separate the two muffin pans and cross stack them in the Sun Oven. Bake until lightly browned with rounded, lightly cracked tops, about 40 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tins then cool for about 5 more minutes before serving. Muffins will stay fresh for up to 24 hours stored in an airtight container or frozen up to 1 month.

Makes 12 muffins.

A Packed Solar Lunch

I volunteered at the Arizona Humane Society today and here’s the lunch packed full of solar goodies that I brought with me. A Mac and Cheese Muffin, a Solar Lunchbox Drumstick, carrot and celery sticks, and a Solar Sour Cream Muffin with strawberries. Everything (except the carrots and celery)  had been made in advance and was easy to put together before heading out in the morning. By the end of my shift six cats had gone to their new homes and one lunch had been thoroughly enjoyed. That’s what I call a good day.

Solar Sour Cream Muffins

I don’t use a lot of sour cream so when I buy some it often gets pushed to the back of the fridge only to be found when it’s too late. This muffin recipe is a good way to use it up before it gets moldy. The muffins come out moist and airy and are great with jam or honey. I got the recipe from “The Ultimate Muffin Book”. It says it makes 12 but I always get more – 16 to 17. I bake the first dozen together in two cross-stacked muffin pans and the rest in a second batch in silicone molds. We eat a few of them as soon as they’re ready and freeze the rest.

Solar Sour Cream Muffins

2 cups all-prupose flour

2/3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

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Steel-Cut Oatmeal Sun Muffins

The next time you cook steel-cut oats in the GSO make extra for these muffins. The maple syrup and blueberries make them a sort of portable oatmeal breakfast. Keep a few in the freezer for those mornings when you want to grab something healthy as you head out for the day. Here in Arizona, a frozen muffin placed on the dashboard will defrost by the time it takes most people to commute to work.

Click here for the recipe.

Except for baking them in the GSO I made no changes to the original recipe. It makes 12 muffins. They can be baked together by separating the muffin pans with a rack and cross stacking them, or in two batches. Either way the baking time will be 25 to 30 minutes.

Toaster Oven Meets Sun Oven

Toaster ovens accessories are a great source for cookware that can be used in the GSO. There are all sorts of baking pans designed for the toaster oven that are ideal for solar cooking. As most recipe followers know, the most common sized baking dish is 13-x 9- x 2-inch and will not fit in the GSO’s cooking chamber. I’ve found that the best way around that, without modifying the recipe’s quantities, is to use two 9- x 6 1/2- x 2-inch toaster oven baking dishes that can be cross stacked when they are placed on the leveling tray.

Muffin pans create another problem. Two standard 6 cups pans will not fit side by side and the muffins will rise higher than the sides of the pan during baking. To get around this obstacle I use a rack that I cannibalized from a long gone, and not missed, toaster oven of my own. Stacking two muffin pans this way is a bit of a balancing act. Since most muffins need to be baked 30 minutes or less I recommend focusing the GSO before placing the pans in the cooking chamber so you won’t have to move it during the baking time.

Banana Cornbread Muffins

These muffins couldn’t be easier to make. All you need is an box of cornbread mix, a ripe banana, and milk. As the days get longer you’ll be able to enjoy them earlier each time you make them. This batch was ready by 10, just in time for a morning coffee break.

Banana Cornbread Muffins


1/2 cup mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup milk (fat free, 1%, or 2%)

1 (7 1/2 to 8 1/2 ounce) package corn muffin mix


Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat. Coat a six cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine banana, milk, and mix in a medium bowl; stir until moist. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake in until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Cool in pan.

Serve with raspberry jam.

Banana Coconut Muffins

Whenever I have some over ripe bananas I whip up a batch of these muffins. At first the combination of banana and coconut seemed odd but they come out moist and delicious.

Banana Coconut Muffins


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg vanilla, and 1/2 cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 40 minutes. Cool muffins on a rack.

Makes 8 muffins.

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